Raspberry Pi’s quest to boost UK manufacturing got a further fillip this week as its distributor RS Components revealed it is moving production to Wales from China.
RS Components is in the process of setting up a move to Sony’s UK plant to manufacture the bare-bones Linux board. The RS move swiftly follows Element 14’s announcement on Friday that it has successfully moved to 100 percent UK production for its Raspberry Pis.
Glenn Jarrett, global head of product marketing at RS, told V3, “We are starting to move manufacturing into the UK, and while our aim is to ultimately move all production to the UK, dual location production in China will continue for the foreseeable future.”
RS was unable to share further information on how many UK jobs will be created from the project, and what proportion of its Raspberry Pis will initially be made in the UK compared to China.
Nevertheless, the RS move was warmly welcomed by Raspberry Pi’s Liz Upton.
“We're very pleased to hear the news. It's great for British manufacturing, and it's something that can make a huge impact on the individual people who will be employed to build the Pis,” she said.
“Manufacturing in South Wales has taken such a hit in the last few decades. I'd love to think that we're doing something to show that actually, there's no reason to offshore if you're building electronics in the UK.”
Upton also dismissed the assumption that building products in the UK added too much cost to the process and resulted in a higher price tag for buyers.
“It costs us the same to build a Raspberry Pi in South Wales as it does in China,” she noted.
“And it makes life a lot easier for the Foundation; if we ever need to visit the factory, we can just hop in the car.”
On Friday, Pi distributor Premier Farnell announced that all its boards were now being built out of the same Sony plant in Wales that RS will soon move into.
Premier’s Element 14 manufacturing division started the process in September, creating around 30 new jobs to supply 30,000 boards per month up to an initial order of 300,000. On Friday, Premier announced the end of China manufacturing.
Based on these timescales, RS Components could move to a 100 percent UK build by October, if it goes for a similar seven-month transition period.
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